Jim Siergey: 1971

January 22nd, 2018

In 1971 I lived in an apartment on Southport Avenue, just north of Irving Park Road. It was a different world in 1971.

Chicago had not yet cast aside its brick and mortar raiments of the 1950s, ‘40s and even the ‘30s. Many neighborhoods, buildings and businesses had not changed their looks or, to use modern parlance, had makeovers for decades.

For example, up the street from me was Jim’s Grocery. It was a small storefront neighborhood grocery store. Jim, the bald-headed proprietor, wore one of those long white aprons tied just under the armpits. You told him what you wanted and he would fetch it from the shelves behind him. No self service in this place of business.

After your requests were fulfilled and lined up on the counter, Jim would remove the pencil from behind his ear and add up the total on a brown paper bag which would then be used to house your purchases. This was 1971 yet it sounds like “Little House on the Prairie”.

Further up the street on the southwest corner of Irving and Southport was a tavern called “Armand’s Tap”. That space is now occupied by “Floyd’s Barber Shop”, a trendy chain tonsorial establishment.

Upon walking into Armand’s, one was whisked back to another age. Besides the long bar with a big jar of pickled eggs perched upon it and stools occupied with various types of middle-aged men, way in the back was a variety of merchandise.


Might as well have been another century…


One could purchase socks, gloves and other assorted bits of flotsam and jetsam. It was like a miniature Maxwell Street, minus the blues musicians.

On tap at Armand’s Tap was Bohemian Vat 69, a brew I have never heard of or come across anywhere before or since. One could order a schooner, which was akin to a margarita goblet full of beer, for thirty cents or a small glass of beer, also known as a “short beer”, for a dime.

I doubt that “short beers” can any longer be found. I fear they’ve gone the way of actual small cups of coffee. Everything is large these days, even the small things.

I have a couple of bizarre stories from the times I visited Armand’s. I will share one of them.

Remember, this was 1971. My pals and I were in our early 20s and we wore our hair long. The Us vs. Them attitude of the turbulent ‘60s were not quite over, however, there was a bit of a thaw beginning. There was just too many of Us for Them to keep fighting.

But, still…

One evening, a quartet of us went to Armand’s and sidled up to the bar. The bartender that night was a short wiry guy with greasy hair. He looked us over and asked to see some I.D. To this request, we complied, but he singled out one of us.

Leonard, although 21 like the rest of us, had a baby face and looked much younger. The bartender held Leonard’s driver’s license and asked him to spell out his full name. Leonard did and the barkeep shook his head and said, “Nope. No good.”

We all looked at him with bewilderment and were about to raise our objections as well as defense of our friend, when the barkeep explained, “You forgot your middle initial, the J.”

He waited a beat and then continued, “You know what the J stands for?”

Before Leonard could respond, he bellowed, “Jaaagoff!”

Then he immediately slapped down a coaster and said “What’ll you have?”

Ah, the good old days.


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Feelin’ Lucky

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Randolph Street: Street Life

January 17th, 2018



2Green Island, Iowa




4Vicksburg, Mississippi


Hiway 61Duluth, Minnesota


All photos © Jon Randolph


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Jim Siergey: Feelin’ Lucky

January 16th, 2018

I recently watched the film Lucky, the last movie Harry Dean Stanton made and, perhaps, the only starring role the long-time character actor had. He was 91. He died two weeks before it opened, to great acclaim.

In Lucky he played a character of which I always wondered what it would be like to be.

There was a diner that he went to every morning. Everyone knew him. He had a regular seat. Conversation ensued.

He was a bit of a cranky character so he often rubbed people the wrong way but they still liked him. He was Lucky. That was his name.

Later, he would toddle over to a bar where the same thing happened. He was served, without asking, his regular drink at his usual seat. More conversation would ensue with the usual cast of characters.

He had a regular stop at a Mexican-run grocery store. The cashier knew him. They conversed. He always bought the same stuff—cigarettes and milk.

It was a small town, barely large enough to even call a town but, if TV and movies are to be believed, there are people like that in bigger towns and cities as well.

Take Boston and the TV show Cheers.


Lucky Man


Are there really places like that where (shudder) everyone knows your name?

I’ve never been much of a barfly. Heck, I’m not even a bargnat. I can count on one finger the number of times I have ever gone into a bar by myself just to have a drink.

My presence in bars has mainly been because a musician friend was playing there. There have been times I’ve gone through those swinging saloon doors to fulfill an invitation to meet friends and other people for a few drinks.

Hmmm, maybe if bars did have swinging doors I would enter more often. That would entice me to get my spurs out of hock.

Thus, that all being said, it’s quite evident that I could never be that guy in the bar with a regular seat and a regular drink, kibitzing with the other regulars.

I could never be that guy getting his usual coffee and breakfast at his usual seat kibitzing with the usual suspects in a diner either.

Who wants to go out to get breakfast the first thing in the morning? Not me. Who wants to talk to anyone in the morning? Not me again.

Besides, breakfast is the easiest meal to prepare, fry a couple of eggs, pour a bowl of cereal, make some toast. Nothing to it. Plus, I can brew my own coffee—the way I like it.

Ergo, there go that dream too.

If I haven’t become that guy yet, I guess I never will.

Although I have gotten to be more of a sociable type, the older I’ve gotten (and I’ve gotten pretty old) but there is a limit to my conviviality, a cap on my conversability, and a ceiling for my geniality.

So, I guess I’ll never be a Norm! or a Lucky but that’s all right. In the immortal words of Sammy Davis Jr., I’ve just gotta be me.

It’s who I’m stuck with.


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was The Challenge



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Randolph Street: Set City

January 12th, 2018

1DSCF1739Belmont Station–Chicago


2DSCF1536Man & Two Birds


3DSCF1743Southport Station


All photos © Jon Randolph


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Randolph Street: Looking Good

January 10th, 2018

1DSCF2124Ace–Hyde Park


2DSCF2122Lady With Cane–Hyde Park


3DSCF8215Man With Green Shirt–Uruguay


All photos © Jon Randolph


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Jim Siergey: The Challenge

January 10th, 2018

Like many sports enthusiasts, I’m a big fan of that new twist that has been added to some of our major sports contests—The Challenge!

This delightful new ingredient stops the action so an official can huddle with his head encuffed in earphones as he views a video monitor that tells and shows him if the call he made was accurate.

After studying video replays from various angles for several minutes, the official then emerges and announces to the crowd, as well as to Mr. & Mrs. America at home watching on television or listening on the radio, whether he has indeed made the correct call or that he has made a dreadful error in judgment, thus reversing the ruling that he misguidedly made during a split second decision.

Then, if everyone can remember where they were and what they were doing before The Challenge, play continues with the adjusted ruling in place This happens, of course, after the over-ruled official has been mocked with catcalls, booing and ancestral insults for an appropriate amount of time.

Baseball, in an effort to speed up the game for the benefit of modern day fans with attention deficit disorders, has gotten rid of the intentional walk, forbade batters from stepping in and out of the batter’s box, put a time limit on the pitcher’s deliveries and edited several verses from The Star Spangled Banner.

These efforts, of course, leave more time for television commercials. After all, one must pay liege to one’s Master.


Better pick up the pace, baseball…


The Challenge, copied from American Football, where a coach can toss a red flag onto the field to demonstrably protest his disagreement with an official’s ruling on a particular play, was adopted in an effort for the sport to attain the absolute apt amount of fairness that it possibly can secure.

Fairness is what America is all about.

Other sports, such as basketball, hockey, bowling and badminton plan to incorporate The Challenge into their particular pastimes as well. Can checkers and chess be far behind?

Baseball and football, as they ever are in staying way ahead of the curve (and spiral), plan to take The Challenge even further. Pitchers, after relinquishing a home run can protest and challenge the catcher for the pitch he signaled to be thrown. Quarterbacks can challenge a coach’s call if a play he sends in does not work. Errors, misplays, even camera closeups on a player yawning, scratching or adjusting his “equipment” can be challenged and reviewed.

At long last, cameramen can also be publicly chastised and humiliated, the same as any other human being.

Evidential use of The Challenge can already be found in both the home and the office.

To challenge a child’s denial of pilfering cookies or picking on his little sister, all a mother has to do is check with Alexa or Echo, not to mention Teddy Ruxpin’s embedded Nanny Cam. A boss can challenge a worker’s denial of spending time on Facebook instead of the Harrison account by merely checking the security monitors.

All done without the use of a flag, be it red, white or yellow.

You see, all those cameras and electronic information-gathering devices that surround us are not here to serve as an Orwellian “Big Brother”. No, of course not, they are here to provide fairness.

Fairness is what we all want, isn’t it?

So, come on, fellow Americans, let’s all “play ball”. The Challenge is up to you.


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Lila Leeds




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Randolph Street: Two Takes

January 7th, 2018


Addison Brown Line Stop–Lincoln & Patterson




Gala–Germania Club



Addison Stop ExitLincoln & Patterson



High HeelGermania Club



Addison Stop–Lincoln & Patterson


All photos © Jon Randolph 2013


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